As longtime members of the congregation watched on Tuesday, crews from D.W. Zinser in Walford demolished the former Salem United Methodist Church at 225 First Ave. SW.
The structure, a pillar of the downtown area since 1873 when it housed an Evangelical United Brethren congregation, was severely damaged by the June 2008 flood. The congregation relocated in 2010 to 3715 33rd Ave. SW, taking over a building that formerly housed New Creation United Methodist Church.
Salem United accepted a buyout from the City of Cedar Rapids for its First Avenue building as well as a structure across the alley that had been used by the church’s youth. The latter building was demolished last week by Zinser crews.
Rev. John Louk, Salem United’s pastor, was called by the congregation before the flood and became pastor on July 6, 2008. He arrived in Cedar Rapids to find his congregation displaced and worshiping in temporary locations.
Watching and photographing the demolition Tuesday, Louk said members of the congregation tried to clean up the First Avenue SW building, but the task was too great.
“I really think our decision to accept the buyout from the city was the right thing to do,” Louk said.
Salem United met in two temporary locations — the former Kenwood Park Presbyterian Church building at 327 35th St. NE and later in shared space at Kenwood United Methodist Church, 175 34th St. NE.
Louk said a church committee is examining options for a possible expansion. Salem United is located on more than 8 acres of land.
PHOTO SEQUENCE of the demolition: